It would be somewhat dismissive to call this recent release by PARNEPAR quirky and just leave it at that. It’s definitely quirky by most pop music standards but it’s also intelligent and intense. It’s really made the last 12 hours or so for me. It’s simply fucking wonderful… well, that is I suppose if you like post-punk. It would have never occurred to me even a year ago that Zagreb, Croatia and the former Yugoslavia in general, had a long-standing rock and roll tradition. Typical of music fans in North America, I tend to think of rock and particularly punk and post-punk in American or English terms. Recent years opened up my ears to the Balkans, Eastern Europe and pretty much the whole world really. Frankly it never occurred to me to even imagine what the rest of the world listened to. Over here we call most of what gets created elsewhere as “world music.” We are often very dumb over here. Anyway, Dobar Dan, Izvolite is angular, spare, and kind of wild. Nothing really to compare it to. This isn’t a review. It’s just me talking, and sharing music.
It just would have never occurred to me that music like this existed outside of a couple countries in the world. No, further, it never occurred to me to wonder if music like this existed in other places. This is where cultural blind spots exist in any context and that’s been on my mind quite a bit in recent years with all the talk of “wokeness” and political correctness and cancel culture. Cancel culture is the finger-pointing accusation du jour from right wing figures being held accountable for longstanding racist, homophobic, sexist and misogynist actions and words and it’s an interesting battle cry because it’s always been mainstream, heterosexual white people who’ve done most of the cancelling. Beyond dismissing and ostracizing “others” actively, cancellation exists in a plethora of contexts that we don’t even think to think about. That’s been a huge personal realization about myself and it’s not merely not thinking about pop music in the former Yugoslavia and the like. There is a NYC telephone book sized list of things that I never thought to think about. Some were pointed out to me by others, much to my chagrin and resistance. Others came to light when I dug at the wounds of having my ills pointed out. It’s too much to get into here. Mindfulness is a process, of course, and not a destination to find on one’s personal map. It’s a journey, not a place.
I’ve spent a good part of my life feeling like the odd man out, and always had some degree of empathy for those who were singled out as different. The main point though is that I was feeling like the odd man out, when often I was entirely accepted at face value. Compounding that is that feeling like the odd man out made me believe that I was automatically aligned with the “other” even though I’d never accepted many facets of these “others” because of my own bigotry. Using the word bigotry to me is not as specific as it sounds. There are those who are willfully bigoted, and then folks like myself who have a lot more blind spots than I would like to think. There are fewer now, but again, it’s a journey. I’m trying to retrain my brain to find similarities, rather than go by visceral reactions that come with a lifetime of programming. It’s probably okay to not think so much about what pop music sounds like on the other side of the world, though thinking about things like that may open doors to finding common grounds. It’s all mindfulness after all. There are other cases though where it is absolutely not okay to think about blind spots.
We’ll leave it at that. Find whatever it takes to open doors and follow your path. Not thinking at all is, in and of itself, the most callow form of cancellation.